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Kriya Yoga Tenets of Lahiri Mahasaya fronted by cat, detail
How to deal with yogi sayings?
First be a yogi yourself.

A Few Sayings of Lahiri Mahasaya Commented On

LoWhat if the supreme guy doesn't think at the time of death?

"Whatever one thinks at the time of death, accordingly one becomes that . . ." (Lahiri statement No 68).

Don't think of tuna and sins at that time, for a good human life is treasured above them.

The Lahiri saying is rooted in an old, Hindu teaching. Some tone down the teaching to "The Vedic scriptures say that a man will be born in his next birth as that thing about which he was thinking most at the time of his death, but note as well there are other teachings too. [Wikipedia, sv. "Jadabharata"]." Anyway, here is an example:

The deer and last thoughts

Kriya Yoga Tenets of Lahiri Mahasaya fronted by a dying king, thinking of a deer.
A dying king, thinking of his dear deer.

A fabled king, Bharata, had a pet deer and thought of the animal when dying. In his next life he became a deer, the scriptures tell. As a deer he had these secret thoughts written down, "How foolish of me to have . . . become attached to an animal? And now I suffer for it."

When that suffering deer died, it was reborn as a human, and that happened the next time around too. At that time the boy who was born had no attachment to his family and did not speak. His father died, and his brothers gave him up as an idiot. He was now a ripe sage who dressed scantily and roamed about and other things in that vein.

[The story appears in the second section of the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana (canto five), and still more texts.]

Questions

Why suppose-support the "last moment thought" teaching if you don't have to? Many other teachings indicate that karma amassed through several lifetimes blend in one incarnation. And Buddha teaches that what matters for future lives is the sum of your deeds - thoughts, works - through a life-time and previous life-times - that is a part of Buddha's karma teachings. On such grounds we are taught much about what to think, do and say and go about, through the eightfold middle way. And there is still room for "special cases".

For the sake of argument, suppose your last thought is "I doubt that teaching!"? How can a human possibly become "I doubt that teaching" - the last thought at death?

Or what if you glimpse your nose, which is much common? May all of you become a nose in your next life? Or if your last though is, "Where did that fly come from?"

What if you look at a painting and then turn into the painting with the canvas and frame and what it depicts in a future life? Further, if you have sought to live well, it seems unfit and unfair to be morphed into a speck of dust on your nose if that is what you think of at the moment of death.

If the final thought is "Farewell," what then?

"Their last words" - Quotations to chew on

I go to seek a Great Perhaps - Francois Rabelais

This wallpaper is dreadful, one of us will have to go. - Oscar Wilde

Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over. (Said on his deathbed) - Beethoven

I see black light (last words) - Victor Hugo

I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis. - Humphrey Bogart

I am still alive! - Gaius Caligula, Roman Emperor, d.41 AD, stabbed to death by his own guards)

Last thoughts such as just quoted, give some problems. Will Bogart be reborn as Martinis, the last part of of his last words? In the case of Gaius Caligula's "I am still alive!" the "last thought" lore fails.

In his saying, Lahiri does not speak of the first thoughts you get concerned with right after dying. But others do.

A wider picture - and the school of death

The Tibetan Book of the Dead seeks to instruct dead persons within hearing-range about how to act after death - about how to deal with experiences beyond death's door, so to speak. The exegesis explains several levels of subtleties to go into, and if possible, how to avoid falling into one of the nasty hells. (Cf. Evans-Wentz 1927; 1967; Mullin 1987)

The bardo experience can be seen in terms of the six realms of existence that we go through, the six realms of our psychological states. . . . How do we know that these things actually happen to people who are dying? Has anyone come back from the grave and told us the experiences they went through? (Freemantle and Trungpa 2007:2, 3

Interestingly to some, many have told of near-death experiences, and their accounts are recorded and classified somewhat in several books on the subject (see further down for more). That goes some steps of the long way to show things that might occur to "manybody", granted the experiences are not merely fabrications of mind or brain.

Dalai Lama holds this view:

Although how or where we will be reborn is generally dependent on karmic forces, our state of mind at the time of death can influence the quality of our next rebirth. So at the moment of death . . . if we make a special effort to generate a virtuous state of mind, we may strengthen and activate a virtuous karma, and so bring about a happy rebirth. . . . the most important point is to avoid anything which will cause the dying person's mind to become more disturbed than it may already be. (in Sogyal Rinpoche 2002: ix-x)

Adding to that, Dalai Lama writes in an introductory commentary to The Tibetan Book of the Dead (2006):

A sense of uncertainty, and often fear, is a natural human feeling when thinking about the nature of death and the relationship between living and dying. (In Coleman and Jinpa, 2006:xxviii).

Francisca Freemantle (2001) holds:

Death is a process . . . from coarse to subtle . . . It seems to be a unique and final event, yet this transformation is actually taking place all the time. . . . Whenever we have the feeling of something coming to an end or of trying to hang on to it, that is a taste of the bardo of dying. (2001:64)

Many seek to be well allied with karma teachings. There are many of them. Buddha says it is good to make much good karma. At least some fruits of good karma can be reaped in this life or future lives or in between lives, it is taught in several texts. Then, "Your future life is portioned out as one-life result of what you have done in many lives, but also what has been done to you". Much might need to be redressed, is an underlying idea in such scenarios.

If we do not seem to fathom all the factors that might go into the subtle art of living and dying along and trying to improve soundly too, we may be helped by our developed, sound focus anyway. That is just what meditation skills are for, and what adepts teach.

The fall of Heim and Interviewed people

Lately, there have been much research into dying persons. But formal modern studies of near-death experiences developed in the late 1800s, after the Swiss geologist Albert von St Gallen Heim (1849–1937) fell down a mountain and saw his whole past life take place in many images. Elevated and harmonious thoughts dominated, and calm swept through his soul. He was surrounded by a splendid blue heaven with delicate roseate and violet cloudlets as he was falling through the air. He landed with a dull thud in a snowfield beneath and his fall was over.

The fall experience made Heim want to out whether other people had reported similar events in their lives. In a short time he collected many accounts from war soldiers wounded in battles; masons and roofers who had fallen from heights; workers who survived disasters in mountain projects and railway accidents; fishermen who had nearly drowned; and Alpine climbers who had survived near-death situations, like himself. He presented his findings in a paper given at the Swiss Alpine Club in 1892. Heim reported that 95 per cent of the cases he collected were strikingly similar, and concluded that some accidents were much more "horrible and cruel" for observers than for the victims. (Corazza 2008:24-25)

Popular interest in near-death experiences (NDEs) was later sparked by Raymond Moody Jr's book "Life After Life" (Moody 1976), first published in 1975. Books by other writers, with stories by revived persons and comments, followed, and several Gallup Polls too.

In 1992, a new Gallup poll revealed that around 13 million Americans claimed to have undergone at least one NDE. Numerous other surveys have been conducted. According to [Kenneth] Ring (1980), 43 per cent, and according to Sabom (1982), 48 per cent of adults who found themselves in life-threatening circumstances had an NDE. The score seems to be higher among children (85 per cent) (Morse 1994). (Corazza 2008:31)

Further, in a study carried out at the Department of the Study of Religions at SOAS, University of London, two researchers asked passers-by in Trafalgar Square, "What kind of things have made you feel most sublime?" and found that 65 per cent of those interviewed had had an experience that could be classified "as religious, spiritual, ecstatic, sacred, paranormal or mystical". (Ibid.)

A design weakness springs to the eye: Different people do not mean the same things by the same words they use, neither by way of intensity, gravity or quality. One and the same word means different things to different persons, and also in dictionaries. 'Spiritual', for example, is defined as nonmaterial, sacred, religious, ethereal, etc. in Collins Dictionary. Thus, what some call spiritual, might be a matter of religious thoughts and beliefs (religious) and not a happy experience, which it suggests to others.

The Interviews

A typical procedure: People who had died and were revived or come back again unaided, were interviewed. Most persons who experience an NDE see it as a verification of the existence of an afterlife. Such an experience is usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead, or otherwise very close to death. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of NDEs reported has increased. Most of the scientific community regards such experiences as hallucinatory, while paranormal specialists and some mainstream scientists claim them to be evidence of an afterlife.

Children, who typically do not have enough time to develop strongly towards one faith, had very limited NDEs.

An ND experience typically follows a distinct progression, which includes the following selection:

  1. Pleasant emotions; calmness and serenity;
  2. A sensation of floating above one's own body and seeing the surrounding area;
  3. Floating up a blue tunnel with a strong, bright light or garden at the end;
  4. Meeting spiritual figures;
  5. Encountering a being of light, or a light;
  6. Having a life review;
  7. A feeling of being returned to the body, often accompanied by a reluctance.

Kenneth Ring (1980) includes "entering the light" after encountering the light, but only 10% experience that stage, according to him.

Some people have also experienced extremely distressing NDEs, emptiness or dread, but a "core" near-death experience encompasses peace, joy, and harmony, followed by insight and mystical or religious experiences.

In More Detail

In his foreword to Roy A. Varghese's substantial book There Is Life After Death (2010), Dr Moody sums up thousands of cases of near-death experiences:

I find there are about 15 or so common elements that tend to be repeated. An individual experience may have two or three or four of these elements, or seven or eight or nine and, in a few rare cases, all the way up to 15 of these common features. . . . [Further,] it seems to correlate in a rough and ready way with . . . how close they were to death. If people were really in extremis such that it is hard to imagine how they survived - if, say, the cardiac arrest was very lengthy - it seems to me much more likely that they would have this full-blown effect of 10 or 12 or 15 of these common elements. But in cases where there was only a momentary cardiac arrest, or where the person was very sick, but didn't get really all the way into the cardiac arrest and so on, then those patients would tend to report that maybe three or four or five or six of these elements were experienced. So there is this kind of spread. (in Varghese 2010:11)

Indescribable surrounding "framework" beyond space-and-time. The profound experience goes beyond words and does hardly take place in the space-time framework as commonly understood. For example, people who came back from a near-death experience might say that, when they get far into the NDE state, just by formulating the idea that they want to go to a place they seem to be there at once. "They will say that time as you and I understand it was just not present." 11)

The NDE content within that framework, so to speak. NDE's bring on out-of-body experiences. "They tell us they seem to rise up and they look down and they see their physical body lying on the operating room table or on the table in the emergency room or sometimes at the scene of an accident. They say they are above their bodies looking down and they see their own physical bodies. Now another complicating thing here is that, by and large, people say in one way or another that although they are out of their physical bodies, they still seem to be in something that they would call a body. They even describe it as something that seems to have extension, like a form. Nonetheless, this is very difficult for them to describe."

Then they start to get aware of unusual sides of the state they have reached.

  1. Heart-to-heart. Being able to hear and understand perfectly what others are saying and doing - or rather: " they become aware of what the doctors or nurses are communicating in a heart-to-heart or mind-to-mind way." And "They may try to touch someone to get their attention. But when they do, when they touch the doctor, they find they can make no contact; they seem to go through." And "Once in a while when people realize that no one can see them and no one can hear them, they can see their bodies lying there useless on the table." (12-13)

  2. Awareness of being dead. A very common next phase is when they realize that they are isolated and come to think something like "Oh, I'm dead."

  3. A Passageway. The idea, "I am really dead," may trigger the next and transcendent phase - and find no words to convey an adequate sense of this state - or a passageway of some sort, a tube or a tunnel. They proceed into it and come out on the other side into an incredibly brilliant, loving and joyous light.

  4. The Light. The light on the other side is far brighter than anything we have experienced hitherto, but does not make the eyes hurt. It is very comforting, rather. Going into this light, they feel love, comfort, peace, and joy that goes beyond what many have experienced while in the body.

  5. Meeting forms of friends and family. One manages to recognize people known already, through a sense of their presence, memories and the personality, even though they are not physical forms. Exceptions to such meeting are found.

  6. Gone relatives may be in the prime of their life there. - they are about the age of 30 or somewhere around there, but "they don't really appear to have any age at all." Tension and hate in former relationships is gone in the NDE state -

  7. Life review. Not everyone has all of the features, yet at some point, many people say that in the field of light, the light takes on its own personal identity, and they feel surrounded by a panorama – full-color, three-dimensional, and instantaneous – which in many cases consists of every single action that they have ever taken in their lives. While at it, they find themselves empathically identified with those with whom they had interacted also - "you feel the pain that you brought about in that other person's life." Or, "you feel the good results that were brought about in that person's life" by your kind actions. Also: "It's what's in your heart that comes back to you" from others. Allow for exceptions, since many are evil of their own accord, and many do good of their own accord too. It is an aspect of more or less free will. Add further ramifications of good and bad actions by you to that as well. In other words, what we do, may have chain reactions too. Such data are said to be experienced detailed and instantaneously beyond the common human time-space-frame.

Some people who are revived, have a strong focus on love and a wish to be capable of love, too.

Return to life in a body. Some people say, "At one moment, I was in this beautiful light. The next moment I found myself back in the operating room with no sense of transition." Another group tells you that someone there, either this light or perhaps some relative or friend of theirs who has passed away, says at some point, "You've got to go back. There are things left to do, you have things you've got to finish." Hardly ever are they given any idea of what it is they have to finish. However, some of them may say after some time here, "Now I understand why I came back." It could become apparent to them as time goes on.

A third group says they were given a choice on the other side: either go back to the lives they were leading, or continue with the experience they were having in the beyond. Almost invariably they had young children left to raise. It also happen that some people say they returned for some other relative or friend. Others who were directed toward helping others, say that for themselves they don't want to come back. They would rather stay in the light.

Effects. The most common effect of an NDE is that the purpose of whatever they had been chasing before – knowledge, power, fame, money, and so on – is to learn how to love. They now want to develop, to learn how to love. From it all it stands out that learning to love is hard. Learning to love many well may be even harder, minding "If you love someone, set them free." It does not mean incapacitating them and then setting them free, but shielding, nurturing, raising and seeking to help them into an education and a line of work they can prosper from in the school of hard knocks (life), more or less without us.

Love can also be a two-way street, with not just one party giving and helping. Friends go into such love. Also, there are other fields and forms of love around.

Again, love among friends may last for eternity.

NDE persons may stop fearing death as a result of having seen death as stepping into another framework. "They just face death with a sort of complete assurance," says Moody.

Near-death experiences can have tremendous effects on the people who have them, their families, and medical workers. Changes in values and beliefs often occur after a near-death experience, including changes in personality and outlook on life, appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, and a desire to learn.

There are many religious and physiological views of near-death experiences. The NDE is often cited as evidence for the existence of the human soul, the afterlife, heaven and hell, ideas that appear in many religious traditions. But sceptics view NDEs as purely neurological and chemical phenomena in the brain. The imagery in the experiences also varies within cultures. [Main source: Wikipedia, sv "near death experiences"]

Phyllis Marie H. Atwater

Phyllis Marie Huffman Atwater is an original researcher of near-death experiences and a noted authority on them. She retired as an active fieldworker in near-death studies in 2010. In The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near-Death Experiences (2000) she seeks to show what different types of near-death experiences are like, along with what is held to be common after-effects - enhanced psychic abilities, "future memory" and other sides to altered views of reality. In Future Memory (1999), she proposed and describes how we may envision ("know" at least parts of) the future like a memory, and thus live a more or less warned life too.

She sums up:

The general after-effects of NDEs include: Being more playful; Getting more sensitive; Handling stress better; Fresher perceptions, etc. (2000:ii)

She says that after initial NDEs there are positive, negative and transcendent, somewhat complex experiences and resulting changes. Among the positive changes are: Loving; Childlike; Expanded world-view; Greater identity. (Ibid, iii)

The negative changes after NDEs include: Disorientation; Threatening behaviour, Getting uncaring (Ibid). "Occasionally, experiencers describe devils or demonic-type beings who were part of their near-death episodes. Some report torture chambers, moans and screams, and say they were attacked. About six percent of her "reporters" had hellish experiences.

What Scott told after being hit by a car

A boy named Scott was hit by a car when he was six. Afterwards, nobody heard him when he spoke, and when he tried to hug his father, the father passed right through him. He also recalls shouting to his brother Graham, and his brother remembered hearing Scott's voice and told his parents that he did at the time of the accident.

Scott next remembered being in a dark place. Then he felt being propelled through a dark tunnel, floating and being pushed along. While going through this dark "wind" tunnel Scott encountered the devil. The devil accused the boy of being bad and frightened him. To Scott, the devil appeared as a large glob of rotting flesh, sick and crazy.

Scott next described crossing a room and seeing an uncle who had died of cancer. He told the boy that he would be all right - in a kind of telepathic way. Afterwards Scott got aware that he was being 'escorted' through a dark open place towards a distant light. He described the light as being brighter than the sun but it did not hurt his eyes. He felt safe in that light. The light communicated to him somehow that he would be okay. There were other presences in the light, but Scott could not find words to describe them.

He was next taken to what he calls a dungeon. It was a large dark room without windows or doors. There he would be safe from the devil. Scott sensed that good beings where in the room too. The next thing he remembers was waking up in the hospital several hours later. He had been kept in an induced coma while being treated for a number of injuries.

Scott told his parents about what happened to him the day following recovery. He was plagued with nightmares and reported that he tried to become closer to God because he did not want to ever meet the devil again. Scott also said that he had often been unkind to others before his near-death experience, but that the episode made him more sensitive to the feelings of others. (Atwater 2000:29-31, retold)

LoThinking about the extraordinary but only fancied, do you end up like that - extraordinary, but just fancied?

In his 108 sayings, Lahiri tells that he and his guru Babaji are Krishna. "Krishna" might be used either metaphorically or to describe a state; it also has many meanings. Krishna has many meanings. Which one was probably intented, and how sure can we be of it? What meaning should we prefer? Is it one that seems to fit a worst-case scenario, or one that perhaps plays on our goodwill? Or one in between the extremes? It may be hard to tell, for the average take may not be right, not even OK. Often, the context of a statement helps us to decide on some probable meanings and drop all the other possible meanings a Sanskrit word may have.

Let us dig better into the many meanings of the Sanskrit word krsna. One of them is a name of an insect. If the context does not imply or suggest that it is "I am an insect" that is meant, there may be other, more likely meanings of krsna to look into. Here are five more, with "I am . . ." added, for the sake of making a point or four or more.

I am cuckoo (Indian cuckoo, Kokila),

I am an antelope,

I am a crow,

I am a kind of demon of darkness (or spirit of darkness),

I am evil,

- and "I am dark / dark-blue / darkness / black / blackness" and "I am blue vitriol / the black part of the eye / black spots in the moon / iron / lead / wicked" to choose among for those who care to investigate what meanings of the Sanskrit krsna (krishna) could be involved.

Now, let us not forget to inspect many combinations too: "I am an evil demon crow" or "I am an evil and dark antelope" - and suppose almost nothing, to be on the safe side.

Don't let fallacies enter the game
Learn to keep things floating, hovering for a while. Jumping to conclusion and a faith may maim and victimise. Hence, it may be wise indeed to keep conclusions at bey, in suspensio.

When a word has many meanings, it often opens up for not just wrong interpretations, but fallacies (wrong conclusions) too. For example, the committe-written Autobiography of a Yogi, chap. 33, says:

Yogananda A nebulous light was rapidly floating over the Ganges; the strange luminescence was reflected in the opaque waters. It approached nearer and nearer until, with a blinding flash, it appeared by the side of [a many centuries old yogi woman] Mataji and condensed itself instantly into the human form of Lahiri Mahasaya.

Something Confucius teaches
In matters which he does not understand, the wise man will always reserve his judgement. [Confucian Analects, Chap 1]

Training should help against being taken in on the one hand, and become set denial-maker on the other hand. Here are some hints. The keynote: Study could help. It is not always possible, and not always easily done, but by fair and fit study, knowledge from science and scholarship progresses. Some incidents from Autobiography of a Yogi may come in handy to show a few basic steps involved for all who like to remain rational, or somewhat rational, or at least not much crazy and teeming with indoctrinated beliefs.

Check if there were any truthful eyewitnesses or other versions of the tale. Find out who started and spread the tale in the first place. The yogi Ram Gopal Muzumdar told the tale to Yogananda, according to Yogannada. He wrote the tale in English, perhaps with a view to impress. He often wrote in such a way, and was aided by his disciple-secretaries too. In other words, there may be some caveats to many a good tale. Harold Lasswell's formula may help. Here it is: "Who (says) What (to) Whom (in) What Channel (with) What Effect?" Add if you like: "Who benefits - Where does the money go?" Then seek to see for yourself.

Compare if you can, as much and well as you are up to it. That is also a step: The episode is not from Arabian Nights, even though it is rife with elements that are found there. The tale is in the Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 13.

Find out something about those who are into the tale. It may be very unwise to rely on just one source of information aimed at goody-goodies. Those that are told about in the tale apart from Lahiri, are his guru, who came travelling in the sky as a circling mass of mystical light before he materialised, and the sister of that one, a many-many-centuries old woman yogi. After the scene, Babaji and "Lahiri Mahasaya slowly levitated and moved backward over the Ganges. . . . Mataji's form floated to [a] cave and descended; the stone slab closed of itself," writes Yogananda and his staff (Op.cit).

Further considerations might help too. The source of the tale, Ram Gopal, used to sleep very little or nothing at all for years, and the years Yogananda wrote his autobiography he slept very little if at all, he too - mark it well. "Yoganandaji was a man who lived in the world of imagination and spiritual [?] feelings. Towards the end, he often did not perceive a difference between the two." (Dasgupta 2006:99). From this, themes like sleep deprivation might appear to be interesting.

Little seems to be told about Ram Gopal outside of Yogananda circles today.

Ramgopal Majumdar lived in Ranbajpur, near Tarakeswar (West Bengal). For 20 years, he had been meditating 18 hours a day. Then he moved to a isolated caves near West Bengal, where he practised kriya yoga daily for 20 hours for 25 years. . . . By such means "he found it unnecessary to sleep for years".

After he had witnessed the swirling and floating lights and forms one night, Ram Gopal went to Lahiri's Varanasi home at dawn. There he was told by a Lahiri disciple that Lahiri had not stirred from the dais during the time Ram Gopal had seen what he told he had seen.

[Autobiography of a Yogi, chap. 13, extracts]

Probe possible alternative explanations. The scene is now set for many different explanations. One of them involves "Lahiri in two bodies, or, bilocation with one part floating and the other part sitting." The scene is also set for a type of logical fallacy: "Some . . . can float over the Ganges and appear with a blinding flash, and [Yogananda writes that] Lahiri could float over the Ganges and appear with a blinding flash while (also) being another place. Therefore Lahiri is a . . . [fill in]".

Caveats to consider: Yogananda often said that he was crazy (2002:270; 1982:425). Interesting! How could he be trusted if he was insane? He also said,

Yogananda We don't really know what is right or real. [Yogananda 1982:414] There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. [Autobiography of a Yogi, Ch. 30]

Further, Yogananda told lies in court, a judge thought. [Yogananda's money charges]. Mind that the fellowship Yogananda set up, have been striving to "gild" him for posterity, against the evidence. A member of a cult may find it very difficult to change his or her views, once they are consolidated cultwise.

It could do good to study the tale-teller and also his reteller - both of them. There are many things to consider with tact and finesse. Assessments may be demanding, even very demanding, and a guru that strove to avoid paying money he owed, could still tell the truth, or the truth as he saw it, or the truth as he imagined it, and so on . . . And why not give yourself the benefit of doubt? It means at times to "consider things and let them rest". But someone on the side of Yogananda might prefer something glorious and flattering about the guru at this point. If may not help to check the alternatives among the meanings of krsna: Lahiri should be himself at any rate. "The comparison halts," is another useful reminder.

Bo Bennett (2013) has written a book about logical fallacies. Anthony Weston (2008) has written another. [More of that lore] Some are entertained by such matters - but a translator typically compares with the traditional uses of the word - krsna - in similar contexts (settings), and decides on some of them, at least one of them. It might be "I am the deity worshipped as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu."

However, "I am the eighth and most important avatar or incarnation of Vishnu," is a bit tricky to say, since "Ship No. 8 has already left the harbour", or "that seat is taken" by Krishna, it is said it many scriptures. In other words, there has been a Krishna already (cf. Wikipedia, "Krishna"), although some material gathered around him may be inconsistent and mythical.

Another meaning of krsna than the historical divine hero could fit better, but which? Is krsna given an esoteric meaning in the quotation? Esoteric wording is roughly "when you say something and means something different." The insider practice could be misleading or confusing to standers-by and outsiders, presumably.

(Sources of "krsna": Monier Williams' Sanskrit-English Dictionary, and Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit.)

Lo"I assume human form"-

"An enlightened person looks at a learned and humble Brahmana, an outcast, even a cow, an elephant, or a dog with an equal eye." (Bhagavad Gita 5;18)

"By Yajna you shall prosper and Yajna shall fulfil all your desires. (Bhagavad Gita 3;10)

On the surface it seems paradoxical, as Yajna means sacrifice in ritual ways. But if having your desires and success in the outward realms is a subtle sacrifice, it could make sense.

In Classical Myths of the Hindus Professors J. van Buitenen and Cornelia Dimmit condense many readable tales about avatars and godly beings. [See van Buitenen and Dimmitt 1978].

Gist

IN SUM
  1. Things are not always what they look like. Having a good life is a fruit of competing and going along. Solid assets count more than many people imagine. What often matters is what you can master of what is locally applicable. In those cases a phrase of Kurt Levin is appropriate: "There is nothing as practical as a good theory". (in Smith 2000:11)
  2. Considering that fervent belief makes the cult in the first place, to the degree that solid evidence is lacking, it may pay to bid the tide, so to speak, and refrain from acting on unverified belief alone.
  3. Happenings and ideas coupled to them constitute experience. But personal experience may cost dearly and be too hard-won. So prefer to stand of the shoulder of the collective efforts of others by proper schooling. All the sons and daughters of Krishna were drowned with his consent. Why? Because they became such a burden for the earth, he said. His offspring. And even his close friends, the Pandava brothers, left the world feeling empty - climbing a mountain to die.

IN NUCE Local, applicable beliefs and routines and skills stand on the shoulders of those who gradually came up with them in history. Not everything that counts is founded on scientific research and found in science alone. Far from it. But do not get blindly and naively fond of old guru sayings either. You are allowed to stay rational for adequate living, remember. Make the best out of it.

What is making the best out of meditation? It is meditating well. There are many steps that could help. Study the best research findings to get the method or set of methods that may help the best. Discern between boastful hype and lots of exaggeration and no proof on the one hand, and statistical findings on the others. Avoid getting trapped: Just as one swallow does not make one summer, it may be an encouraging sign, but as far as proofs go, great claimes and one case report may be a bit meagre to build on. Just be aware of that.

Meditate regularly and with the skills called for, and deepen the meditation thereby, "step by step", for example. It is not beliefs that make the yogi or meditator, but practice. Experiences and life changes may both come with meditation.

Keep a clear head if you can. Transcendental Meditation, TM, is good for mental balance, according to Swedish research. [◦Dr Jaan Suurküla's TM findings]

We may like a story without believing or discounting it. Many sorts of stories could be good for us, Dr Jerome Bruner points out.

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Some Tenets

The first publisher of words by Lahiri Baba, Panchanon Bhattacharya, thinks that Lahiri's statements may not be understood, not even by genial people, unless one has progressed in kriya. What is called kriya yoga differs a bit from one school to another.

In short, there is no need to worry about the sayings of Lahiri Mahasaya, anf or other reasons too. What is fit and wise in this terrain, is to progress in deep and swift meditation.

When it comes to all the tenets around, here are a few that throws much light on the issue. One is by Adi Shankara and one is by Guru Dev, aka. Sri Brahmananda.

No great need to study scriptures, but a great need to live well

Spiritual teachings . . . cannot throw light on the inner Self, for the Self is Light. [Guru Dev, Sri Brahmananda]

Study of the scriptures is fruitless as long as Brahman [God] has not been experienced. And when Brahman has been experienced, it is useless to read the scriptures. [Shankara]

When the Great Reality is not known, the study of the scriptures is fruitless. When the Great Reality is known, the study of the scriptures is also fruitless. [The same, reworded]

Avoid getting confused

It is wise to focus on fit meditation methods and do them well, and not get hung up in constructs. It is implied in "both three" statements above.

You have to care about Vedas if you meditate very well, for they teach "Don't overlook your deep Self within" by other words. What about what is taught about Self (Brahman) in the Upanishads and many other Hindu teachings? It is good to reflect on. Ramakrishna came out of deep states without being able to count well for a little while, since meditating well means going beyond thinking (cf. Jagadananda 1970). Yes, have a wide horizon of understanding.

"Can God create stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?" [Stephen Hawking]. There are limits to many things, including our understanding of "almighty". Make the best out of it, however.

OK balance is fit, and so is making oneself more fit and proficient and progress well.

When you experience a void, you are someone experiencing it. Hence, the void is not truly void: Don't overlook yourself and the deep Self within. How to attain it by waking up in It: The way of mantras is a firm part of Buddhism and Hinduism. Mantras are syllables and syllables sets. Initiation in higher yoga-meditation often includes the imparting of a mantra by the Preceptor. In the Indian tradition, mantras are thought to be truly efficacious only when they are got verbally from one's mentor in that way.

A further given seems to be: "Some say this, some say that". Some tell that x is essential and others that x is not essential. Mere word-belief is not a fit way to find out.

On the literal-minded rungs of the ladder of expressions we say that air is physical, a mixture of gases, that is, elements in gas forms. On the more inward-turned rungs you may translate 'air' into "life energy" or prana. The term prana is translated into 'breath' and 'air', but it is not as easy as that. When prana is taken to denote life energy, the term covers many pranas (prana functions behind hiccups and bowel movements, etc, etc. And the prana (vitality) that enters the body at the back of the neck may be given another name still. There are many wide terms in original yoga. Georg Feuerstein (1990) explains some key terms.

Main findings of stress research could help, even a lot.

You may consider teachings and tenets as provisional, like working hypotheses. Buddha allows for that basic attitude in his Kalama Sutta. [Link]

In sum, it is the delicate training that bears fruits, not mere beliefs for or against this and that.

Contents


Lahiri Mahasaya sayings and comments, Literature  

Atwater, P. M. H., with David H. Morgan. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near-Death Experiences. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books / Macmillan, 2000.

Bennett, Bo. Logically Fallacious: The Ultimate Collection of over 300 Logical Fallacies. Updated Academic ed. Sudbury, MA: eBookIt.com., 2013.

Coleman, Graham, and Thupten Jinpa, eds. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation. Tr. Gyurme Dorje, introduction by Dalai Lama XIV, Paperback ed. London: Penguin Books, 2006.

Corazza, Ornella. Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2008.

Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.

Dimmitt, Cornelia, ed., and J. A. B. van Buitenen, tr. Classical Hindu Mythology. Philadelphia: Temple University, 1978.

Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English Rendering. London: Oxford University Press, 1927.

Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1967. Feuerstein, Georg. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga. London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1990.

Freemantle, Francesca. Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2001.

Jagadananda, Swami, tr. Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master. 4th ed. Mylapore: Ramakrishna Math, 1970.

Moody, Raymond. Life after Life: the Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death. New York: Bantam. Books, 1976.

Mullin, Glenn. Death and Dying: The Tibetan Tradition. Harmondsworth: Arkana/Penguin, 1987.

Rinpoche, Guru, according to Karma Lingpa. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo. Trs and comms. Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa London: Shambhala, 2007.

Smith, Eliot R., and Diane M. Mackie. Social Psychology. 2nd ed. Hove: Psychology Press, 2000.

Sogyal Rinpoche. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Eds. Patrick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey. Rev. and updated ed. London: HarperCollins, 2002.

Varghese, Roy Abraham. There Is Life after Death: Compelling Reports from Those Who Have Glimpsed the After-Life. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2010.

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments. 4th ed. Cambridge: Hacketts, 2008.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2002. ⍽▢⍽ "I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind," said Yogananda (p. 270)

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

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